Week Three--To outline or not

“At the time I begin writing a novel, the last thing I want to do is follow a plot outline. To know too much a the start takes the pleasure out of discovering what the book is about.” -- Elmore Leonard in “Making it up as I go along” [AARP The Magazine, July/August 2009]

Hi, everyone!   Did you meet your goals last week?  I know I did a pretty good job going over at least two final edit chapters plus worked on a new beginning to my sekrit project.

I thought this week we'd go over the age old question:

To outline or not?

I do use an outline in my own writing.  An example of a model I use is here:


Others I know don't use an outline and just write.  I figure whatever works for you is the way to go!

Last week during Teacher's Write on-line workshop, guest author Sally Wilkins had this to share on outlining:


Plus check out author Kate Messner's post on outlining:


And now for the winner of last week's #wipmadness:


Email me at ixtumea@gmail.com  to let me know which galley you'd like

And for motivation for writing this week, I have a treat:

And loved this little bit of advice from The Pocket Muse by Monica Wood

Tempted to quit early?

Make yourself this promise:
One more sentence.

Say this every single time
you want to quit early:

One more sentence

Remember I'm cheering for you all!


Congrats to Charlie!

I've done both...outline and no outline. I find I work best somewhere in the middle—a loose outline, if you will. With plenty of room for change built in.

One reason I LOVE Scrivener so much is that I can lay out note cards for each chapter and shuffle them or change them or delete them as I need to. I usually start with the first few chapters sketched out pretty clearly, but the rest is sort of hazy. I have to give my characters and the plot room to grow, so I don't want to sew up all those seams too early.

Now I'm in the button-popping stage of revising/reworking my WIP. Deleting whole chapters, adding new ones. Developing existing characters in more detail and adding a few new ones. Changing some of the motivation and backstory. Egads!

But I've managed to add 2 shiny new chapters and re-work three existing chapters since the start of June. (YAY). This week...looks like a shiny new chapter kind of week.

Rock on, Wipsters!
Love the hat!

I outline scenes visually in my mind, sort of like a movie preview.

Lots of progress this past week. Denise and I have stirred up a little friendly competition which means I'm aiming to finish revising my MG by the 26th. If I get busy, I might just do that today (did you hear that, D?)

Hope all you Wipsters have a fabulous week.

Enjoy ALA, Kim. ^_^
Denise Jaden said…
I've done everything from a 38k outline (yes, you read that right!) to flying by the seat of my pants. Now I usually work off of a loose outline. I know the beginning and the end, often a subplot or two, and then just go with that. Still learning what works best for me.

Angelina...bring it!

Back to work...
Charlie? Charlie? As in me? I don't see any other Charlies here... so Woo hoo!!! Thanks so much!

I'm a big-time outliner. I get more detailed outlines with every book I write! I want to make sure I've got my story straight and don't forget any details. ;)
The book I'm in the process of revising was a total pantser project and was difficult. The last book I did a loose outline. I'm preparing to write a sci-fi story and it will be outlined - major plot points. The rest has to organically arise through the course of letting the characters tell their story.

As for me - I got through my first revision with two betas on my heels. Waiting on feedback from one still and once I have that in place should be prepared for the next revision focusing in on a few characters.

After that, a couple of more beta reads, then querying. My goal is to be query ready by July 15th. How's that for a deadline?
Kim Baccellia said…
Mary Ann,

I really tried to work with Scrivener but somehow I couldn't make sense of it. I did love the cork board feature of it.

Yay, you on adding 2 shiny new chapters!
Kim Baccellia said…


I've been wearing hats to church to support my friend Tiffany who's been going through chemo for her breast cancer. I wish more women at our church would wear hats too. I love hats but knew she'd been feeling self-conscious losing her hair to chemo treatments.

Yay, you and Denise!
Kim Baccellia said…

Wow. I wish I could write from the seat of my pants and admire those who can. Me? I just end up with a huge mess. I know others who write as they go and kind of have a loosely planned outline. These authors do a fab job too!

Ooh, let us know how you and Angelina do! A little friendly competition always is great!
Kim Baccellia said…

Yes, you! You won!

I'm also a plotter. I learned my method from Lou Nelson at UCI Extension Writing program. Once I started using it, I kept at it. Also my writing mentor Joyce Sweeney uses a similar plot map with her YA authors.
Kim Baccellia said…

Yes, I also use Beta readers. Usually though I use them after a do a number of revisions. It always helps to have another pair of eyes go over a story.
I've been all over the place from pantsing to plotting, and find what works best for me is a ten-page-synopsis to work out the plot, while still giving myself the flexibility to change things as I go along. And I do. A lot.

I met my goal last week to finish my second draft. Now I've got a little under four weeks to get this baby ready to turn in. Wish I had time for beta reader review before then, but there just isn't time in the schedule this time around.

Your posts always hit the right spot, Kim!
Carol Garvin said…
Congrats, Charlie! Joining the happy dance for you.

I've never been big on plotting, but my first seat-of-the-pants novel took a very long time to write and years in revision. So now I compromise and do some advance planning... just a little. For me it makes more sense to have a jumping off place and a destination than to wander aimlessly.

Last week I alternated between working on the current w.i.p. and trying to decide on a contest entry, and I hit the weekend without visible progress on either. I'm still plugging along this week, hoping something will ignite passion and provoke more forward motion. I may need to invest in rocket fuel soon.
Beth said…
I'm an in-betweener. I know what will happen at the beginning, maybe a few middling events, and a loose ending (that almost always changes). Otherwise my characters determine the story, as they should IMO.

As far as WIP Madness goes, today I sent my first queries and received my first rejection. Doesn't sting too badly. I know the right agent is out there.
L.S. Taylor said…
Ah, the Plotter vs. Pantser question. I treat it like a spectrum, but in the past year, I've added a third dimension: I'm a Puzzler. Which is part plotter, part pantser.

In short: Yes, I outline. To a point. But I need to leave room for creativity to strike at will. The term "puzzler" comes from the idea that, like a puzzle, I put all of the edges together, and clumps of the middle that fit, and then the minute details fill themselves in as I write.

As for progress, this past week was not very productive. One of the problems I encountered was that, in the process of fixing one small thing near the beginning to make for a better story, it's turned out to have made major ripples and is going to mean some serious (though hopefully not extensive) rewrites. I realized a solution, but the weekend was busier than I expected and things have not gone quite as I'd hoped. I've got some time to rest ahead of me, though, and I'm hoping to make use of it, so hopefully I'll have more to report *next* Monday.
Shari Green said…
Yes, I met my goal! Finished that round of revisions and sent ms off to one of my crit partners to see if I'm anywhere near the mark with this one.

And it's a perfect time to think about pantsing vs plotting because I'm sitting here on the brink of jumping into a new WIP. Is it plotted? er...no. I'm not a total pantser, but only the loosest of outlines work for me. I'm basically a muller, as in, spend lots of time mulling over a character or setting or even a feeling (tone, I guess) until I know a starting point and a potential-but-will-probably-change ending point, and then (finally) I start writing. :)
Shari Green said…
P.S. -- Mom, if you find a good source for rocket fuel, let me know. ;)

Beth, hooray for sending out queries! (But boo for the rejection.) Here's to finding the right agent soon! Good luck!
Kim Baccellia said…

Wow, a 10 pg. synopsis? I know a couple other authors who do this too and swear it helps!

Yay, on making your goal! That's great!
Kim Baccellia said…

Shaking my pom-poms over here:

You can do it!

I think all of us at some time need a little more rocket fuel to ignite us to write more.

You can do it!!!
Kim Baccellia said…

Great attitude you have! Yes, rejections can sting but you know my best writing came after some rejections. The ones that had some feedback were my favorites even the ones at first that I thought were heartless. Those I put aside for a few and realized that those were the ones that helped me the most.

One thing I've learned is you need to be persistent and seize any opportunity that comes your way.
Kim Baccellia said…

Ooh, I like that term: The puzzler. I wonder if I have a little of that in my own writing.

And I so know what you mean. I thought my sekrit project was done and all it needed was some revisions. No, it looks like it's going to need a major rehaul. So it's like take a deep breath and just go for it.

I know, easier said then done!
Kim Baccellia said…

Yay, you! That's a huge accomplishment!

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